Thorsmork (Þórsmörk) – A Hiker’s Paradise
How to define endless beauty?
The place named after the Viking god Thor is no doubt one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations, both among Icelanders and foreign visitors alike. It’s a mountain range with awe-inspiring vistas of glaciers, valleys, rivers, waterfalls, caves and endless unspoiled nature. One way to describe it is to call it an “oasis in the shelter of glaciers”.
One of the reasons for this pristine nature is its natural shelter of mountains, glaciers and rivers, making it less windy than other places of south Iceland. This lush of vegetation is impassable for sheep (sorry for them) and partly for people as well! The area cannot be accessed without crossing the rushing River Krossá, so a super jeep or a highland bus becomes a must. Fording that infamous river puts to the test the skills of the most experienced drivers, and our Thorsmork Tour drivers at Discover.is have all very much experience of driving there. Krossá is a glacial river, and as such its size and depth is very unstable.
Thorsmork (Þórsmörk) has a large number of different hiking trails suitable for people with all levels of stamina. In our day tours customers can often choose between two short hiking trails. Each walk takes approximately one hour. This map from ja.is, the local Online Telephone Directory, shows hiking paths in Thorsmork.
Stakkholtsgjá is a canyon or gap in palagonite tuff where water has broken its way through. The length of the gap is about 2 km. As a reward for your hike, you will find a small and unusual waterfall there. Some who can tolerate icy cold water have taken the challenge to go for a shower there!
Another idea for a short hike is to walk from the valley Langidalur to the huts of Básar. This is a beautiful trail through a valley, suitable for all family members. Langidalur might be called the heart of Þórsmörk, and it’s an ideal starting point for many nice hiking trails. You can enjoy astonishing vistas by walking on Valahnúkur, which is 458 m high, or take a bit longer hike towards Rjúpnafell, a mountain 819 m high. Always beware of possible weather changes and fog, and try to tag on with other travelers.
The Trekking Route of Laugavegur
The Laugavegur is a famous trekking route between the hot spring area of Landmannalaugar and Þórsmörk. The route is 55 km long and is typically completed over 2 – 4 days with potential stops at mountain huts. The starting or ending point of the Laugavegur Route is the Skarðfjörðsskáli Hut in Langidalur. But the name Laugavegur should not be confused with the main shopping street in the center of the capital city Reykjavík also named Laugavegur.
Where is Thorsmork?
Good question! It’s located between the glaciers Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull. It might be tempting to define it as a place with a set of names difficult to pronounce for travelers!
In ancient manuscripts Þórsmörk was defined as a much smaller area than it is nowadays. A common understanding refers to the mountain range between the 3 rivers Þjórsá, Markarfljót and Þröngá. Some people use the name Þórsmörk informally to describe a wider area that includes the region between Þórsmörk (Thorsmork) and Eyjafjallajökull. Perhaps it’s not strange why the definition varies from one person to another. Where can one put the limits of Thorsmork’s endless beauty?